Absolutely Fabulous star Dame June Whitfield has died

Actress Dame June Whitfield, best known for her role in the long-running sitcom Terry And June, has died at the age of 93.

Dame June’s career stretched back to the 1940s, including roles in the Carry On films, stage productions and TV hits.

In 1992 she made her first appearance in Jennifer Saunders’ sitcom Absolutely Fabulous playing Edina Monsoon’s mother.

June Whitfield Absolutely Fabulous The Movie London Premiere © Joe Alvarez

June Whitfield © Joe Alvarez

She was made a dame in the 2017 Birthday Honours for her services to drama and entertainment in a career spanning eight decades.

Dame June also appeared in numerous Radio 4 productions during her career, and played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

She was granted an OBE at the 1985 Birthday Honours, and was made a CBE in 1998.

Her agent said she “passed away peacefully last night”.

Dame June was born in Streatham, south London in 1925 and was evacuated from London during the Second World War.

Later she graduated from the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art before the end of the war and her entertainment career began in the same decade with work on the West End stage. Dame June met her husband Tim Aitchison in the 1950s and the couple went on to have a daughter, Suzy, who followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an actress. Mr Aitchison died in 2001.

She also appeared in a show written by Saunders, Jam And Jerusalem.

In a statement, Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said: “June Whitfield was the North Star of British comedy.

“Her spectacular career is unparalleled in its longevity, with seven decades of being a key element in numerous high profile and successful shows. “She was the go-to female comedy performer of her generation and was always in demand from the cream of British comedy.

“She led the way for female comedy and we owe her enormous respect. Our thoughts go out to family and friends at this sad time.”

Actress Julia Sawalha, who played Dame June’s straight-laced granddaughter Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous, said: “Thank you Dame June Whitfield, for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity.

“I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my adoration. “You were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.”

Producer Jon Plowman, who worked on episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and the 2016 film version, tweeted that he was “very sad” to hear that June Whitfield had died.

Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders Absolutely Fabulous The Movie London Premiere © Joe Alvarez

June Whitfield’s co-stars Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders at the Absolutely Fabulous The Movie London Premiere © Joe Alvarez

He said: “There was no-one with more warmth or a better ability to just ‘place’ a line, always an act of utter precision.

“Hit after hit! Take it from Here Terry and June Absolutely Fabulous over seven decade. A great loss.”!

Impressionist Rory Bremner has also paid tribute to Dame June on Twitter, saying she was the “go-to comedy actress for three generations”. He added: “From 60s radio to 70s, 80s, even 90s TV. Always graceful and elegant with a real comic glint in her eye and (absolutely) fabulous timing.”

Charity Age UK tweeted to say it was “devastated” to hear of Dame June’s death.

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June Whitfield Absolutely Fabulous premiere © Joe Alvarez 32309

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